1946 S IH35, Ste 400, Austin, TX 78704
VOICE OF DENTISTRY IN TEXAS THE
8 3 rd T E X A S L E G I S L AT U R E
LEGISLATIVE REPORT CARD TDA Membership Makes the Grade: Protecting Your Patients & Profession
8 3 rd T E X A S L E G I S L AT U R E S U B J E C T
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Patient Protection and Safety
The TDA worked closely with the legislature to enhance patient protection and safety at entities not wholly-owned by dentists that provide patient care. Dental Service Organizations (or “DSOs”) in Texas continue to increase in number, size, and volume of patients treated as do accounts of profit-over-patient business practices that can lead to patient abuse and mistreatment. Organized dentistry prevailed with the passage of House Bill (HB) 3201 authorizing the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) to collect information from dentists and DSOs such as locations where dental services are provided and copies of agreements between DSOs and dentists. Furthermore, the legislation defines in law a DSO and defines in law a service agreement made between a DSO and a dentist.
HB 3201 provides the TSBDE with clear authority to request information from DSOs and dentists. The information collected will assist the TSBDE with properly enforcing the Dental Practice Act.
Medicaid and Public Health
The TDA successfully maintained adequate funding for the state’s dental Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program while simultaneously advocating for improvements in the programs to benefit participating dentists. The TDA worked tirelessly with legislators in crafting Senate Bill (SB) 1803 creating transparency, clarity, and neutrality regarding investigation and enforcement activities of the state. SB 1150 establishes a Medicaid “provider protection plan” governing contracts between the state and the dental insurance carriers for the delivery of Medicaid medical and dental services. TDA efforts secured passage of HB 2483 which will improve oral health education in Texas schools. The law requires oral health education as part of the coordinated health program for public elementary, middle, and junior high students.
SB 1803 balances the state’s obligation to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicaid by instituting much needed comprehensive safeguards to protect Medicaid providers subject to state investigation and enforcement. The bill establishes clear definitive timelines for the state’s investigation and enforcement proceedings and provides transparency to the overall process. SB 1150 provides for a standardized credentialing process and prompt payment of Medicaid providers.
Access to Care
The TDA has a long history of supporting charitable dental activities and seeks to increase the number of dentists participating in such programs. The TDA successfully advocated for HB 1491 creating a temporary charitable license for out-of-state dentists to provide charitable dental care in Texas. This new ability for out-of-state licensed dentists to participate in charitable dental events enhances access to dental care for needy Texans by allowing Texas charities offering free dental services to solicit the help of dentists in neighboring states.
Licensure applicants must be from states with similar licensure requirements as Texas, and the license is contingent upon the applicant providing uncompensated dental care to a medically underserved population for a specific period of time at a specific charitable event. The TSBDE is in the process of creating the license application and it should be available before August 2013.
The TDA joined with other stakeholders securing passage of HB 500 making permanent the $1 million exemption to the franchise tax. Dental practices subject to the franchise tax with $1 million or less in total revenue will owe no franchise taxes. The tax reduction, supported by Governor Rick Perry, helps both dentists as small business owners and the patients they serve by reducing the overall costs associated with operating a dental practice.
The franchise tax exemption takes effect January 1, 2014, and applies to a franchise tax report after the effective date.
Texas State Board of Dental Examiners
The legislature approved a budget for the TSBDE that includes funding to improve complaint resolution and licensure activities. The funding increase, which will come from increases to licensees and registrants, enables the TSBDE to hire an additional 15 employees to bolster the licensure, enforcement, and legal departments. The TDA successfully supported legislation establishing a new TSBDE enforcement program and creation of “expert panels” of dentists and hygienists to assist the TSBDE with complaints and investigations relating to professional competency. Funding for the new enforcement program will come from a $55 increase on issuance and renewal of a dental license.
The TSBDE’s expert review panels must complete preliminary complaint investigations no later than the 60th day after the complaint is received. Furthermore, HB 3201 prevents a member of the TSBDE from expressing an oral or written opinion or giving testimony in a civil action involving malpractice or a violation of the standard of care. The TDA also successfully supported HB 1395, exempting registered dental laboratories from certain licensing and fee requirements imposed by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Texas Medical Privacy Act Training
The TDA advocated passage of SB 1609 changing the training requirements for certain dental offices under the Texas Medical Privacy Act. The revised training requirements reduce the onerous burdens placed on covered dental practices in complying with previous training obligations under HB 300 passed by the 82nd Texas legislature.
As of September 1, 2013, HIPAA-covered entities will be required to provide training concerning protected health information as necessary and appropriate for employees to carry out their job duties. This training must occur within 90 days after a new employee is hired and retraining within 1 year after a material change to state or federal privacy laws if such a change affects the duties of the employee.
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HB 502 would have defined a person who provides or performs a “teeth whitening treatment” Practicing Dentistry Without as a person practicing dentistry thereby protecting individuals seeking to have teeth whitening services performed in a retail setting. The bill did not apply to whitening products sold over a License
The TDA will continue to educate legislators regarding the threats to public safety resulting from the unlicensed practice of dentistry.
Improving the State Oral Health Infrastructure
The TDA continues to support programs that strengthen the oral health infrastructure in Texas thereby improving access to dental services for all Texans.
the counter to an individual who then applies the product to themselves. HB 502 passed the House but time ran out before it could pass the Senate.
Improving and strengthening the state’s oral health infrastructure is a continuous process. Issues such as mandating that the Oral Health Program at DSHS be led by a licensed dentist, dental coverage in a child support order, and allowing Medicaid dentists to defer Medicaid compensation into a retirement account faced legislative obstacles and fell short of passage.
As a member of organized dentistry, you are not facing practice or professional issues alone. The TDA team seeks to preserve your rights as a dentist. For more information on legislative matters or DENPAC, please contact Jess Calvert, director of public affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on becoming a member, please contact Lee Ann Johnson, director of member services, at email@example.com. You can also visit the TDA website, www.tda.org or call the central office at (512) 443-3675 to join or to get more information on valuable member resources.